Camis and Slips from Kwik Sew “Beautiful Lingerie” Kerston Martensson

At one time most women wore a petticoat every time they wore a dress or skirt, opacity of the garment notwithstanding.  To not do so would raise eyebrows.   All “nice” ladies wore a slip.  Additionally, it was immodest if even the tiny lace edge of your slip were to peep out from the vent or hem of your skirt.   You wore one to be decorous and then if you handled yourself right no one would ever know you were wearing a slip, thereby leaving all unaware of your finer sense of decorum.  Fearful that I be branded a girl of dubious standards this observation fell on the selectively deaf ears of my great-aunties.  Though later generations have collectively came to the same unspoken conclusion of “who is to know?” and quietly stopped wearing this type of underwear. 

Aunt Margaret's best slip. If you look at the hemline you can see that another panel of fabric behind the outer layer. It is what I think is called a "shadow panel."

 This is my Great-aunt Margaret’s favorite slip.  I came to live with her in 1971 and I don’t remember her ever not having this slip.  She wore this thing in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Aunt Marg proudly stated that she wore her clothes “In fashion, out of fashion and back in fashion again.”

Well, I can tell you, slips are definitely out of fashion.

I haven’t worn one in years myself.  But I am returning to wearing more skirts and I remember how useful petticoats can be.  My own dress lingerie stash is nonexistent, pieces having worn out long ago not to be replaced as I was appalled by department store prices for less than a yard of what I knew to be cheap nylon tricot.

I kept telling myself to wait until they went on sale.  They never went on sale.  They have left the sales floor altogether, or, of still dubious quality and unreduced price, remain thinly hanging from a tiny rack in a far corner next to the matronly unders.

 Rarely do I see, usually in a thrift or vintage shop, one as well-made as this humble little slip probably bought in the late 60’s at a mass market department store.  And this one does what it was designed to do – provide complete opacity.

Especially with summer skirts sunlight penetrates both skirt and petticoat.  Aunt Marg’s slip has a double panel of tricot in the front.   I believe Aunt Margaret called it a shadow panel.  (But my memory may be off. If another reader remembers these slips and the proper name please tell me.) 

If you peep under the outer skirt you can see that the shadow panel is nothing more than an unfinished piece of tricot. How easy can that be?

I had a spare yard of tricot in my stash and I wondered if I could recreate Aunt Marg’s slip using the pattern instructions from my Kwik Sew “Beautiful Lingerie” book.

Pros:

  • If I had known these things were so easy I would have sewn a gazillion by now.
  • If you keep your lace and elastic application simple, your project is potentially cut to finish in about 30 minutes. Keep that thought when you need some instant gratification.
  • If you are using tricot it does not require special treatment on the edges making hemming and lace edging less fussy and very quick.
  • Adding a shadow panel is super easy because you don’t have to bother hemming it.  Simply sew it up with your side seams. 

Cons:

  • Fabric can be hard to find. Online may be the only source in many communities.  Sew Sassy is one source.
  • Tricot can jam in your machine as might other delicate lingerie fabrics.

Hems can be turned under and sewn down with decorative stitching. For such a stretchy fabric, tricot takes decorative stitches surprisingly well. You may want to begin and end your seam with a bit of stabilizer underneath as the fabric does tend to jam at those places.

Some Assembly Required:

My Kwik Sew Cami and Slip. I like the wide shoulder bands and have yet to see if the lace edge poking up beyond the neckline will work with my V-necks. As my first run the slip is not as nice as Aunt Margaret's but it still functions the same. You can see the shadow panel when you look at the hemline.

Slips

  1. Sew side seams.
  2. Adorn hemline with lace or stitching.
  3. Attach elastic

Camis

  1. Finish neckline and upper edges by turning under or lace edging.
  2. Add any extra ormanentation to front neckline.
  3. Sew side seams.
  4. Attach straps.
  5. Hem by turning under or adding lace edging.

Fabric:

I used some nylon tricot I bought from JoAnn’s a few years ago.  The bolt is very wide so one yard got me two slips and one cami.  I previously did not think that tricot came in various qualities, (as I thought tricot was oxymoronic to quality,)  but it must have grades like any other material since my fabric is a bit stiff, not as pliable as what I see in the stores. 

Finetuning:

The camis are a wee bit harder than slips, but not by much.  Navigating the corners on the front neckline may be the hardest part.  I wanted a band wide enough to cover my bra straps and used a pattern piece from one of the gowns further on in the book. 

If you want to use a spaghetti strap that is easily done.  If you want your strap to have the plastic adjustors the easiest way I can imagine is to hit a thrift store, buy a discard that matches your fabric and cut the straps off of that.   The second way is to construct your own strap.  Here is an earlier post with the method and tutorial I use.

Will I Sew it Again:

I am already hunting down better tricot and eyeing thrift store garments for potential purloined lace.

Advice to Others:

Do make sure that you put layer right sides together for you main pieces, and then lay your shadow panel atop of that so it is uppermost in the pile.  Then when you turn it will be on the inside.

You may want to tear off a bit of tissue paper or stabilizer to begin your seaming.  The tricot jammed down into my feed dogs twice necessitating unscrewing the whole plate in order to break the fabric free.

Overall Style Grade:  N/A; I have seen plain ones and fancy ones but they never seem to change their basic look. 

Results Grade: A, easy.  Terrific for beginners because if it goes a little wonky, who is going to see? And what a great way to learn beginning lace application.

Next Post: Thursday, September 23, 2010: I don’t have a clue what I am posting next so it will be a surprise to me too!

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Laree
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 08:25:23

    I grew up wearing slips but allowed myself to skip them of late if I were wearing something opaque enough not to need one. Especially in the south, where it just seemed impractical in the hot summers.

    Until…I went to a church service wearing a body-skimming knit dress. Opaque, yes, but…I found I really needed a layer between me and the dress. I don’t know if it’s a function of ageing, or just of the dress itself, but every time I stood up, the dress, um, caught in the back (seat area? Get my drift?) in a most unpleasant and embarrassing manner.

    Now, heat or no heat, I wear a slip.

    Oh, a source for quality slip tricot is refashionable large nightgowns (on sale is great!)…

    Reply

    • Sewista Fashionista
      Sep 21, 2010 @ 12:21:48

      Since my slip sewing I have been eyeing those nightgowns whenever I go by them in a department store. Then I sigh and remind myself of my fabric fast until the stash bash is over. Knits fit closer to the body now than they used and I too have suffered your dilemma. I don’t think it can be age since this is one place we are all pretty much the same 😉

      Reply

  2. Echo
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 19:56:31

    My grandmothers both wore slips every day and I remember my mum putting one on whenever she wore skirts. I have often wished for a good cami as there are just so many navel grazing and low cut tops around for summer that, for modesty’s sake, we really should don’t you think? Then again tell that to the gorgeous young things out and about of an evening… Hmmm.

    I shall have a look at sewing some long camis I think – thank you for the advice on construction with tricot.

    Reply

  3. liona
    Mar 09, 2016 @ 09:27:05

    Hello, thank you for your review (sort of) of kirsten martensson book, i was wondering if i should pick up the book. I am a 165 cm girl living in indonesia where the majority of girl is 10 cm shorter than me. I have been having trouble finding slips, under pants or long camis thats long enough for me. Most came too short unless i buy from international brand with international sizes, which is very expensive in indonesia after all the tax and everything the government impose.

    After reading your blog, i am going to pick up the book. I hope i can figure out how to sew. I never sew. In fact i hope i can sew a dress for me someday, most dress here is too short for me and will be indecent if i sit. It is a torture to sit on.

    Reply

    • Sewista Fashionista
      Apr 21, 2016 @ 18:05:48

      Since I am in the US I had to pick up my measuring tape to check how tall 165 cm is. You are five foot five inches in US measurements. That is about average height here. [I am 5 foot 5 1/2 inches.] So, oh yes, the patterns should fit and it should be a relief to sew patterns geared more towards your height. Actually in the West a lot of garments and sewing patterns are geared to someone about five feet eight inches, abt. 173 cm. You might have to take up the patterns at the hemline. As to the sewing, if you are wanting to make slips or simple underwear no one will be seeing any sewing slip-ups. I hope you have a good time learning and that you enjoy the book. 🙂

      Reply

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